Sun, Jan 08, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Insurgents kill Pakistan border force

ASSAULT The assailants attacked the newly built checkpoint near Miran Shah, where Pakistan has been beefing up its anti-terrorism security forces

AP , MIRAN SHAH, PAKISTAN

Assailants armed with rockets and assault rifles attacked a newly built checkpoint near the Afghan border in Pakistan before dawn yesterday, killing all eight security forces, officials said.

The attack happened in a village near Miran Shah, the main town in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region where the government has deployed thousands of troops and security forces in an effort to flush out remnants of the Taliban, al-Qaeda and their local supporters.

All eight soldiers guarding the checkpoint were killed, said a senior security official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Another security official in the region, who also didn't want to be named, said over the phone that the slain troops had moved to the new checkpoint hours before the attack.

The official said that Pakistani armed forces backed by helicopters were now trying to track down the assailants.

House attack

Hours after the checkpoint attack, helicopter gunships fired on a home along the Pakistan-Afghan border, 50km west of Miran Shah, killing eight people and injuring several others, residents said.

Four women and four children were among the injured and were taken to a hospital in Miran Shah, said a resident who didn't want to be named.

The army could not immediately confirm the incident, and it wasn't immediately clear if the helicopter assault and checkpoint attack were linked.

Residents claim a US helicopter was involved. However, the Pakistani military also uses US-made helicopters provided by Washington.

The checkpoint was set up this week as part of Pakistan's efforts to stop insurgents from sneaking into the country or going back to Afghanistan, where US forces have been trying to flush out insurgents.

Key ally

Pakistan is a key ally of the US in its war on terror, and it has killed or captured scores of terror suspects and their local supporters in the North and South Waziristan regions after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the US.

The rebels often target security forces in retaliation.

The latest attack on security forces came in the same region where al-Qaeda operative Hamza Rabia was killed in December last year.

Pakistani officials said Rabia was killed in an explosion caused by bomb-making activities.

However, local residents said Rabia died in a missile attack, and parts of what appeared to be a missile were found at the site.

Neither Pakistani nor US officials have confirmed that version of the incident.

Rabia gained prominence after the arrest of al-Qaeda's suspected No. 3 Abu Farraj al-Libbi in Pakistan in May.

Al-Libbi -- who twice tried to assassinate Pakistan's President General Pervez Musharraf for aiding Washington's war on terror -- was later turned over to the US for further investigation.

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